Joshua Bell

Music Director

Joshua Bell is one of the most celebrated violinists of his era, and his restless curiosity, passion, and multi-faceted musical interests are almost unparalleled in the world of classical music. Selected as Music Director of the Academy of St Martin in the Fields by the musicians in 2011, Bell is the first person to hold this post following Sir Neville Marriner, who formed the orchestra in 1958.

An exclusive Sony Classical artist, Joshua Bell has recorded more than 40 CDs since his first LP recording at age 18 on the Decca Label, garnering Grammy, Mercury, Gramophone and Echo Klassik awards in the process. The Academy of St Martin in the Fields’ first release under Bell’s leadership, Beethoven Symphonies No. 4 and 7, debuted at #1 on the Billboard charts, and was followed up by the critically acclaimed Bach. Other recent releases include French Impressions with pianist Jeremy Denk, At Home With Friends, Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, and Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto with the Berlin Philharmonic. His discography encompasses much of the major violin repertoire as well as ground-breaking collaborations across multiple musical genres with respected artists from the worlds of Pop (Sting, Josh Groban), Jazz (Chick Corea, Branford Marsalis), Bluegrass (Edgar Meyer, Bela Fleck) and Film (including John Corigliano’s Oscar-winning soundtrack, The Red Violin, and the Oscar-nominated score to Ladies in Lavender written by Nigel Hess and starring Dames Judi Dench and Maggie Smith).

Born in Bloomington, Indiana, Joshua Bell received his first violin at age four and at 12 began studying with the legendary Josef Gingold at Indiana University where he now serves as a senior lecturer at the Jacobs School of Music. At the age of 14 Bell began his rise to stardom, performing with Riccardo Muti and the Philhadelphia Orchestra and at age 17 making his Carnegie Hall debut and touring Europe for the first time.

Perhaps the event that helped most to transform his reputation from ‘musicians’ musician’ to ‘household name’ was his incognito performance in a Washington, DC subway station in 2007. Ever adventurous, Bell had agreed to participate in the Washington Post story by Gene Weingarten which thoughtfully examined art and context. The story earned Weingarten a Pulitzer Prize and sparked an international firestorm of discussion. The conversation continues to this day, thanks in part to the September 2013 publication of the children’s book The Man with the Violin by Kathy Stinson, illustrated by Dušan Petričić from Annick Press.

Joshua Bell has received many accolades: in 2013 he was honoured by the New York Chapter, The Recording Academy; in 2012 by the National Young Arts Foundation; in 2011 he received the Paul Newman Award from Arts Horizons and the Huberman Award from Moment Magazine. Bell was named ‘Instrumentalist of the Year, 2010’ by Musical America and received the Humanitarian Award from Seton Hall University. In 2009 he was honoured by Education Through Music and he received the Academy of Achievement Award in 2008. He was awarded the Avery Fisher Prize in 2007 and was inducted into the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame in 2005.

In 2003 Joshua Bell was chosen to perform at the World Economic Forum for an audience of world leaders and was later recognized by that prestigious organisation as a Young Global Leader. Convinced of the value of music as both a diplomatic and educational tool, he has performed for three U.S. Presidents as well as the President of China and has devoted himself to several charitable causes, most notably Education Through Music, which has helped put instruments in the hands of tens of thousands of kids in the inner cities of America.

Joshua Bell performs on the 1713 Huberman Stradivarius violin and uses a late 18th century French bow by François Tourte.

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Image credit: Joshua Bell © Robert Ascroft